2013 NFL Regular Season in Review

justaguy footballThe 2013 NFL regular season is over and it was quite the wild ride for a number of teams. We break down the biggest surprises from the season, both good and bad. Who saw the Falcons and Texans combining for 6 wins this year? We also look at our preseason predictions and how they did or didn’t pan out. Those darn Redskins didn’t help any of us out. Finally we go head to head with the actual standings versus our occasionally wonderful predictions.

Surprisingly Good

Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs are a playoff team after a 2-14 season last year.  The addition of Andy Reid and Alex Smith to go along with a good D has been huge.  While I do not think they will impress in the playoffs, it is nonetheless a very successful season.  Jamaal Charles is an MVP candidate and would win if not for Peyton Manning.  Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, and Derrick Johnson were a strong front that led to big plays, which made for many happily surprised fantasy owners. – Chris

Cardinals

I figured the NFC West would be far and away the best division in football. I predicted my Rams to go 9-7, and they ended up not far off. What I didn’t expect was the Arizona Cardinals to surge. They ended up with a dominant, top notch defense (the division’s calling card), and a suddenly competent offense with a decent Carson Palmer. The offensive line stepped up, despite losing first round pick Jonathan Cooper for the year in preseason. Rashard Mendenhall was a plodder, but rookie Andre Ellington was a pleasant surprise. Larry Fitzgerald bounced back respectably, and Michael Floyd emerged as a threat in his second season. – Frank

Panthers

The Carolina Panthers really impressed me this season. I don’t think anyone picked them to finish top two in the division, much less be in the playoffs, but here we are. Cam Newton has been great, despite mediocre numbers from Steve Smith and whoever they’re putting back there at running back. But the defense, the defense has been a force. Luke Kuechly has morphed into Zach Thomas 2.0 and Star Lotulelei was an absolute steal in the draft for this team. They may not have the flashy stats, Kuechly leads the team with 4 INT’s (tied for 10th in the league) and Greg Hardy has 11 sacks (tied for 8th), but they’re an all around solid unit that should serve Carolina well in the playoffs. – Steve

Jets

The New York Jets should have had no chance whatsoever to win half of their games and end up in second place in the AFC East, but they did and that’s in no small part thanks to head coach Rex Ryan. Luckily enough for the Jets, Rex will be returning next year per owner Woody Johnson’s post game announcement. I still don’t believe Geno Smith is the future at quarterback, but they almost have no choice but to keep playing him next year. Free agency and the draft will be the determining factor for this team next year. – Ryan

Surprisingly Bad

Texans & Falcons

The horrible play of the Houston Texans and Atlanta Falcons.  Both were high seeded playoff teams in 2012 and this year they are the punch line of many NFL jokes.  While injuries can be the blame, it shouldnt be the excuse.  Matt Schaub had a nice streak of throwing pick sixes which eventually led to his benching.  Arian Foster battled injuries all year.  Many of the Texans game have been laughers and this includes a season sweep by the Jaguars.  The Falcons on the other hand have had most of their losses come from playoff teams.  This may be more a product of a tough schedule, injuries and bad luck.  Although Matty Ice hasnt been too impressive and Steven Jackson hasnt showed much. – Chris

NFC East

The NFC East is atrocious. I thought the Giants would rebound with a division title  year in which they come out of nowhere to make a deep postseason run. How wrong I was. They were terrible. And if not for the train wreck that is the Washington Redskins, they’d be dead last in the division. David Wilson had fumbilitis, then got hurt. After that, it was a derby of washed up players and no names to play the position before Andre Brown came back. Eli Manning was awful, turning the ball over at will. Hakeem Nicks flopped in a contract year, not even scoring a touchdown as of week 17. He’ll be lucky to score a nice contract this offseason, but I’m sure some desperate team will pay up. Cruz was up and down. The defense was a mess until it was too little too late, when they improved towards the end of the year. – Frank

NFC North

I’ll go out on a limb here and just say that the NFC North as a whole was surprisingly bad this season. The Bears stopped absolutely no one on defense. The Packers looked like a Division III team when Rodgers went down. The Lions collapsed in Lions fashion with the division on the line. The Vikings started three different QB’s enroute to the worst record in the division. The whole thing has been miserable. I have zero faith in whomever wins the division to do anything in the playoffs, no one should win this. – Steve

Buccaneers

2012 saw the Tampa Bay Bucs improve tremendously with the number one rushing defense and the best statistical output from the quarterback position ever. Yes, Josh Freeman is the Bucs single season record holder for passing yards and touchdowns. That’s the same Josh Freeman who was released this year after the team came out of the gate to an 0-8 start. Bobby Rainey filled in nicely, while injured Doug Martin was out, but it wasn’t enough to help Greg Schiano keep his position as coach.  – Ryan

Best Predictions

Eagles

I was pretty good on the Patriots, Titans, Saints, but the one I liked the best was my Eagles review.  I did have them last in the NFC East (7-9) but I said the offense would be impressive and exciting once it got going and the defense would be the problem.  Well the offense really got it going when Nick Foles took over and has been one of the best in the NFL. LeSean McCoy has been spectacular and despite his controversial comments in the offseason Riley Cooper has emerged as nice compliment to Desean Jackson.  Chip Kelly may have something exciting for a few years and like I said giving a little hope to Philly fans for the future. – Chris

Chiefs

I’d say the best prediction of the teams I dissected was the Kansas City Chiefs. I mentioned how they can quickly turn around and be one of the better teams this year, because of a healthy defense and remolded offense; along with finishing second in the division. That’s exactly what happened. They may not make much playoff noise, but they are in. Jamal Charles emerged as arguably the top back in the league, carrying this unit on his back. Tamba Hali and Justin Houston emerged as big time players along with the defensive guys I named earlier this year to create a solid, intimidating unit. – Frank

Broncos & Seahawks

It’s almost unfair to include the Broncos and Seahawks in this, but I’m going to. You were really playing with house money when picking these teams. They both proved themselves last season and only solidified themselves this season. Both teams are in the Super Bowl hunt, so expect a fun playoff run from at least one of them. – Steve

Cardinals

The addition of Carson Palmer at quarterback and the tremendous growth and continuing maturity of their defense showed that the Cardinals can be a force even in the tough NFC West.  Andre Ellington came on strong, averaging over 5 yards a carry, when Rashad Mendenhall wasn’t able to go. Michael Floyd had more yards receiving than superstar Larry Fitzgerald. That combination helped the offense keep pace with their strong defense, led by Karlos Dansby. Missing the playoffs is a disappointment for any team, but a 10 win season and positive outlook for next year gives the Cards reason to smile. – Ryan

Worst Predictions

Chargers

Toss up between my Chargers or Steelers prediction.  I am leaning towards San Diego since I said they would be one of the worst teams in the NFL.  Much to my surprise they are a playoff contender.  Philip Rivers played rather well this year and Ryan Mathews actually stayed healthy.  Rookie WR Keenan Allen was probably the biggest surprise and he is on the running for offensive rookie of the year.  San Diego also beat some of the top teams including Denver, KC, and Indy, but lost to some bad teams (Texans, Redskins, Raiders) which may be the reason they do not make the playoffs. – Chris

Texans

By far, the Houston Texans were my worst prediction. I thought they’d win the division yet again. Where are they? The worst team in the league with a top pick in the 2014 draft. Arian Foster went down to injury, and Ben Tate also played dinged up. Matt Schuab was bad, and eventually benched. The only bright spot was Andre Johnson fighting off father time and Deandre Hopkins showing signs of future success. The defense lost Brian Cushing again, and what I thought would be a solid addition in Ed Reed, he was released midseason. JJ Watt could never muster anything, and the defense was a joke. Actually, the whole team was a joke. How wrong I was. – Frank

Redskins

The Redskins going 11-5 and winning the NFC East was way off. They completely imploded this year and I doubt anyone really saw that coming. After trading away their future for RGIII they look to be in a huge hole going forward. I think we all sold Chip Kelly and the Eagles short too, but very uninspiring play from Washington this season. – Steve

Falcons

The addition of Stephen Jackson to an already potent offense was meant to be the icing on the cake for a Falcons team that went 13-3 in 2012. That was not the case as the Falcons succumbed to multiple injuries and couldn’t overcome opponents once they fell behind. Jackson ended up with less than 600 yards rushing on the season, in part due to injury and it’s hard to run the ball when you’re playing from behind. A couple bright spots included Harry Douglass’ breakout year and a young defense that should continue to improve. The retirement of Tony Gonzalez will hurt next year, but if they can find a replacement at tight end and fix the anemic rushing attack they should be poised to bounce back.  – Ryan

NFL Standings vs Predictions

AFC East

SteveRyanChrisFrankActual
Dolphins (10-6)Dolphins (9-7)Patriots (11-5)Patriots (10-6)Patriots (11-5)
Patriots (9-7)Patriots (9-7)Dolphins (8-8)Dolphins (9-7)Jets (8-8)
Bills (6-10)Bills (6-10)Bills (7-9)Bills (6-10)Dolphins (8-8)
Jets (6-10)Jets (3-13)Jets (3-13)Jets (4-12)Bills (6-10)

NFC East

SteveRyanChrisFrankActual
Redskins (11-5)Redskins (10-6)Giants (10-6)Giants (10-6)Eagles (10-6)
Giants (9-7)Giants (9-7)Redskins (8-8)Redskins (9-7)Cowboys (8-8)
Cowboys (7-9)Cowboys (7-9)Cowboys (8-8)Cowboys (8-8)Giants (7-9)
Eagles (5-11)Eagles (4-12)Eagles (7-9)Eagles (6-10)Redskins (3-13)

AFC South

SteveRyanChrisFrankActual
Texans (9-7)Texans (11-5)Colts (12-4)Texans (12-4)Colts (11-5)
Titans (6-10)Colts (10-6)Texans (10-6)Colts (8-8)Titans (7-9)
Colts (6-10)Titans (7-9)Titans (6-10)Titans (4-12)Jaguars (4-12)
Jaguars (3-13)Jaguars (3-13)Jaguars (1-15)Jaguars (2-14)Texans (2-14)

NFC South

SteveRyanChrisFrankActual
Falcons (10-6)Falcons (12-4)Saints (12-4)Falcons (12-4)Panthers (12-4)
Saints (10-6)Saints (10-6)Falcons (12-4)Saints (10-6)Saints (11-5)
Buccaneers (8-8)Buccaneers (7-9)Buccaneers (9-7)Buccaneers (7-9)Falcons (4-12)
Panthers (5-11)Panthers (6-10)Panthers (6-10)Panthers (5-11)Buccaneers (4-12)

AFC North

SteveRyanChrisFrankActual
Bengals (10-6)Bengals (11-5)Steelers (10-6)Bengals (10-6)Bengals (11-5)
Ravens (8-8)Ravens (9-7)Bengals (9-7)Ravens (9-7)Steelers (8-8)
Steelers (5-11)Steelers (8-8)Ravens (9-7)Steelers (9-7)Ravens (8-8)
Browns (3-13)Browns (4-12)Browns (6-10)Browns (5-11)Browns (4-12)

NFC North

SteveRyanChrisFrankActual
Packers (10-6)Bears (12-4)Packers (12-4)Packers (12-4)Packers (8-7-1)
Bears (8-8)Packers (10-6)Bears (9-7)Bears (8-8)Bears (8-8)
Lions (8-8)Lions (7-9)Lions (6-10)Lions (7-9)Lions (7-9)
Vikings (6-10)Vikings (6-10)Vikings (6-10)Vikings (5-11)Vikings (5-10-1)

AFC West

SteveRyanChrisFrankActual
Seahawks (13-3)49ers (12-4)49ers (13-3)49ers (12-4)Seahawks (13-3)
49ers (12-4)Seahawks (12-4)Seahawks (12-4)Seahawks (11-5)49ers (12-4)
Rams (7-9)Cardinals (9-7)Rams (8-8)Rams (9-7)Cardinals (10-6)
Cardinals (6-10)Rams (6-10)Cardinals (6-10)Cardinals (3-13)Rams (7-9)

NFC West

SteveRyanChrisFrankActual
Broncos (12-4)Broncos (12-4)Broncos (12-4)Broncos (13-3)Broncos (13-3)
Chiefs (6-10)Chiefs (9-7)Chiefs (7-9)Chiefs (8-8)Chiefs (11-5)
Chargers (4-12)Chargers (4-12)Raiders (3-13)Chargers (4-12)Chargers (9-7)
Raiders (4-12)Raiders (2-14)Chargers (3-13)Raiders (2-14)Raiders (4-12)

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